Authors: Juliette Cross
Tags: #demons, #PNR, #Supernaturals, #UF
Sometimes sin looks an awful lot like heaven.
The Vessel Trilogy, Book 2
One demon prince may be festering in the bowels of the soul eater Cocytus, but Genevieve’s troubles are far from over. Prince Bamal, demon lord of New York City, still wants her. But this time, he wants her alive, to control her inherent power as a Vessel of Light.
With Jude Delacroix off searching for the prophecy, Thomas—a guardian angel with sea-green eyes and an aura of winter woods—steps into the gap, offering her the power to protect herself.
Yet she hesitates, for the transfer of that power comes through a kiss. While Gen’s love for Jude is true, Thomas stirs a desire where there should be none. Thomas also knows Jude’s darkest secret and plans to use it, if necessary, to win Gen for his own.
While her Vessel power grows and more demon spawn creep from every dark corner of the world, one thing is certain—the Great War between the angels and demons is quickly approaching. And Gen is in a race against time to awaken her full power before the storm breaks.
Warning: Contains a demon hunter with dark secrets, a sexy angel with ulterior motives, and demonic creatures running amok.
Sealed in Sin
For Rebekah Campbell, my Brit bestie and soul sister.
A Vessel is born to serve the Light. Destined to awaken her full power, to become an invincible force, she will lead the hosts of good against the lords of darkness. In over two thousand years since the first Vessel came into this world, not one has fulfilled her fate. She has either fallen to the seduction of a demon prince—where her power, her body, her will becomes his alone. Or she has sought escape in the cold embrace of death. Not one has been born strong enough to resist the bewitching lure of the Dark, to bond with her power and become the infinite source of might for the Flamma of Light.
“I told you. I
Kat literally appeared out of thin air with a sharp electric snap, slamming down today’s copy of the
New York Times
on the breakfast table. My hand jerked. I dropped my spoon into the Froot Loops with a clink, milk splattering my chin.
“Damn it! Don’t scare me like that.” I scowled, wiping milk from my pajama top.
Ignoring the fact that she nearly gave me a heart attack sifting into my kitchen without warning, she straightened to her full six-foot height, hands on hips, blonde braid swishing over one shoulder. Dressed in typical Kat attire—black jeans, tight knit top and close-fitting leather jacket—she pointed at the cover story.
“Look, Gen. Don’t you see what this means? A high demon has stolen the prophecy. Well, half the prophecy, anyway.”
Kat had once shown me her picture of the torn relic, the first half of the prophecy, which up until now had been protected in the vaults of the Vatican for centuries, guarded by wards to keep it from ever leaving the premises. What we still hadn’t found and needed desperately was the lost half of the prophecy.
I picked up the paper and read, “‘Officials reported a breach into the Vatican Library Secret Archives recently. Authorities report the discovery of tampering with ancient documents on Thursday evening’.” I skimmed through a quote by local authorities, saying not much of anything, then continued reading. “‘No documents were reported missing; however, ancient manuscripts had been shuffled aside and left in disarray.’ Kat, this doesn’t mean it was about the prophecy. This could be anybody—some secret society or religious fanatic. A cult. Who knows?”
She narrowed her eyes and leaned over the table. “Listen to me. I know without a shadow of a doubt this is about the prophecy. I don’t know how I know, I just do.”
“Wait, the Vatican is sacred ground. A demon can’t break in there.”
“No, but a human in service to a high demon can. A sentinel. Or…a Vessel.”
I flinched. A demon could possess a captive Vessel and use her as a shell to go anywhere and do whatever he wanted.
Kat snatched the paper back and folded it on the table. “Now, we have to assume one of the demon princes has the prophecy, or at least the half that we have.”
“Why a high demon? Why not an angel or some other
?” Flamma were supernatural beings created by heaven and hell to battle for the Light or the Darkness. I’d recently discovered that I happened to be one of these beings.
“Because an angel or Flamma of Light could sift in without detection. It was definitely a human serving a high demon.”
High demons, essentially the aristocracy of the underworld, had the power to bargain with and compel humans to do their will, typically with some immoral payoff for the human. Could be nice if there wasn’t that whole burning-in-hell-for-eternity thing.
“The funny thing is the paper didn’t mention when the incident occurred, only that they discovered the misplaced documents on Thursday. When I did some digging of my own, I found out that the break-in actually occurred several weeks back.”
“Who do you know in the Vatican to get that information?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Kat smirked, then turned her attention out the kitchen window at a mockingbird perched on the crepe myrtle outside. “If the high demons are taking such risks, then we’re definitely nearing the Great War.”
The war between the heavenly and demonic hosts, foretold to take place on the battleground of earth to determine who would finally hold dominion over all. I tried to avoid this topic as much as possible. After discovering the existence of this other world on my twentieth birthday, I’d opened my mind to an entirely new reality. But I was still unwilling to accept we were on the brink of the end of mankind altogether.
I took my bowl to the sink and washed my hands, deciding to pull Kat from darker thoughts. “Not all Flamma can sift.” I eyed her with a grimace. “I can’t.”
She pulled her attention from the looming war and tilted her head, her silken, ropelike braid falling over one shoulder. “If I could give you the power to sift, I would. You know I would.”
“I know,” I sighed.” It’s frustrating. I have to be carted around like a child.”
All angels had the power to sift—to move through time and space, disappearing from one destination and reappearing in another in mere seconds. High demons also held this power because they’d once been angels before the Fall. The
Master of Demons, or more simply, demon hunters, were given this power upon their making so that they would meet their enemy on equal footing.
“Only angels can give that power,” Kat said. “And I’m certainly no angel.”
I smiled, leaning on the kitchen counter. “True,” I agreed. “I just don’t understand why a Vessel shouldn’t have that power too. I’m in need as much as you are.”
Kat propped a hand on the edge of the counter. A frown wrinkled her pretty brow.
“What?” I asked.
“I was just thinking…”
“Didn’t you say you met Uriel, the Archangel who transformed Jude and me into what we are?”
“And what did you think of him?”
I shivered. I’d met him as he walked away from the garden in the center of Jackson Square a few weeks ago. Though he was human in appearance, my Vessel Sense—that innate gift I’d inherited on my twentieth birthday and which had been growing ever since—recognized him right away. He glowed with a vibrant inner force, a power that left me trembling. I’d been awe-struck.
“He was”—I began, unable to put my thoughts into words—“powerful. Magnificently so.”
Kat nodded with a knowing smile. “And scary too, right?”
“Yes.” I blew out a breath.
“I’ve been a servant of the Light for two centuries, Gen. And in that time, I’ve observed that both demons and angels are highly covetous of their powers. Any diminishing of their power, which happens when they share it with another, would make them vulnerable.”
“But, even so, wouldn’t it serve the Light more for a Vessel like me, one who could
be the Vessel from the prophecy, to have the power to sift?”
“Of course it would. Unfortunately, only a few of us believe you’re the one, and so far, no angels are on board with our theory. Remember, Gen. Every Vessel before you has either fallen into darkness or died.”
Like I needed to hear that story again. “On that lovely reminder, I’m going to change.” I swished out of the kitchen, crossing into my bedroom.
Kat followed. “Where’s Mindy?”
“Shopping with her mom. Every first Saturday of the month.” My roommate and best friend had a fondness for anything recently featured on the cover of
magazines. She never missed her monthly shopping spree with her mother.
I pilfered my closet and threw some clothes on the bed. I opened my top drawer, then slipped out of my pajamas and pulled on a sports bra. Kat sat on my plush down comforter.
“You have nothing to worry about, though.” She fell back into our kitchen conversation. “With Jude as your guardian, nothing will happen to you.”
My heart skipped a beat. My guardian. God, just the thought of him flushed my cheeks hot. As well as the rest of me, especially low, feminine places. I pulled on a long-sleeve, black top and dark jeans, then plopped onto the bed to slip on my knee-high boots. Kat and I no longer trained in a gym. We’d moved on to seeking out demon dens, testing my Vessel strength on the real deal.
“Well,” I zipped up my right boot, “George gave me the power to break Danté’s blood cast, so he couldn’t summon my soul anymore. George isn’t an angel, and he shared his power with me.”
“He did?” she asked with a strange twang.
I opened my top dresser drawer and pulled out a harness of leather straps. Kat bit her nails, frowning. Much to my surprise, I’d discovered on the night George shared his protection with me, the exchange of Flamma power was transferred through a kiss. I knew there was a past between George and Kat, and right now, she was picturing George’s mouth on mine.
“Hey,” I said, buckling the harness across my chest where two sheaths flattened against my rib cage. “He’s not that great a kisser.” I winked.
She snorted. “Liar.”
“You still care about him, don’t you?”
“Still?” She tightened her lips into a line. “How did you know I…Oh… Jude.”
“It wasn’t hard to figure out.” I slid two razor-sharp daggers into their sheaths. “You act kind of crazy around George.” I pulled my dark hair back into a ponytail with the band from around my wrist.
Kat popped off the bed, blowing out a heavy sigh. “Yes, well, that’s all in the past. But to clarify for you, George is a saint. His inherent power in the hierarchy is for protection of the innocent. That’s why he was able to share it with you. Your soul was in danger. Saints were once human and, therefore, have a soft spot for them.”
“So angels don’t?”
“We’ll save that for another conversation. Now get your ass in gear and let’s work on
inherent power—to blast demons back to hell.”
After slipping into my brown leather jacket, I zipped it up and took Kat’s outstretched hands. Electric energy raised the hair on my arms, zinging along my skin in a flooding current. My stomach sank as a sucking sensation pulled my skin, muscles and bones into a tight ball. We sifted out with a whoosh.